Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure during which the internal structure of a joint is examined for both diagnosis and treatment of internal disorders. In arthroscopic examination, a small incision is made through which pencil-sized instruments that have a small lens and lighting system (arthroscope) are passed. Arthroscopy magnifies and illuminates the structures of the joint with the light that is transmitted through fiber optics. It is attached to a television camera and the interior of the joint is seen on the television monitor.
Arthroscopic examination of joints is helpful in diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:
- Inflammation: Synovitis, the inflammation of the lining of the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, or ankle
- Acute or chronic injury: Injuries to the shoulder, knee and wrist joint such as cartilage tears and tendon tears.
- Osteoarthritis: A type of arthritis caused by cartilage loss in a joint
- Loose Bodies: Bone or cartilage that becomes lodged within the joint
During arthroscopic surgery, either a general, spinal or local anesthesia will be given depending on the condition. A small incision is made through which the arthroscope is inserted. Other accessory incisions will be made through which specially designed instruments are inserted. After the procedure is completed the arthroscope is removed and incisions are closed. You may be instructed about incision care, activities to be avoided and exercises to be performed for faster recovery.
Some of the possible but unlikely complications after arthroscopy include infection, phlebitis (clotting of blood in vein), excessive swelling, bleeding, blood vessel or nerve damage and instrument breakage.
It may take a few weeks for the incisions to heal and the joint to recover completely. A rehabilitation program may be advised for a speedy recovery of normal joint function. You can resume normal activities within a few days.